The California Funeral Bureau

The Bureau licenses funeral practitioners, funeral establishments, crematories, registers intern embalmers and investigates complaints against them. It also provides consumer education.

In addition, the City is working with funeral homes to reduce the risk of infection by washing and dressing bodies and following CDC worker safety and disinfection guidelines.


Generally speaking, every person who, within the state of California, practices as a funeral director, undertaker or embalmer must be licensed. Licensing requirements vary considerably from state to state; however, as a general rule those seeking licensure must be high school graduates; pass a mortuary college’s national or state board examinations; serve a funeral internship/apprenticeship and complete a state-specific mortuary jurisprudence exam.

Funeral establishments, funeral directors, and embalmers must register with the New York City Department of Health’s Office of Vital Records, Burial Desk. Crematory managers and their salespeople must also be registered on a biennial basis.

The Cemetery & Funeral Bureau advocates consumer protection and licensee compliance through proactive education and consistent interpretation and application of the laws governing the death care industry. It licenses and regulates funeral establishments, directors and embalmers; grave diggers; cemetery managers, brokers and salespersons; and cremated remains disposers. It also inspects, registers and investigates consumer/provider complaints related to the practice of funeral directing and burial services.


A funeral director must work closely with medical certifiers to file accurate death records. These permanent legal documents allow families to settle estates and obtain Social Security, veterans and insurance benefits. Families also use the records to identify deceased relatives for memorial and graveside services.

A person who operates a funeral establishment must present a General Price List and Casket Price List to customers before taking payment for funeral goods and services. These lists must include prices for caskets, outer burial containers and urns. Also included are charges for outside vendor services, obituaries and “unallocated overhead.”

A funeral director or embalmer must register on a biennial basis to continue working lawfully in the state. The registration process requires a completed licensure application, fees, a statement of jurisprudence and proof of completion of the funeral directing or embalming exam. In addition, a mortuary or funeral director must notify the department when there is a change in ownership.


When a loved one dies, grieving family members are often faced with dozens of decisions. Among these are whether the body should be buried or cremated, who should arrange the funeral, and how much everything will cost. Consumers have the right to request a general price list from funeral providers, and the state’s licensing laws require them to provide it.

The license of a funeral establishment or crematory may be suspended or revoked for violations of the regulations. In addition to imposing fines or other penalties, the Board has the authority to require an apology, additional education or additional staffing at an offending establishment.

The Bureau regularly holds public Regulatory Hearings to allow interested persons the opportunity to present oral or written comments about proposed regulatory actions. Interested parties may also submit their comments by mail, fax or e-mail to the Bureau before the deadline specified in each Notice of Regulatory Action. Those comments will be considered at the next Regulatory Hearing.

Continuing Education

Continuing education is a requirement in many professions. These courses are usually non-credit-awarding classes that focus on a specific subject or skill set and often end with a certificate of completion. Continuing education is also known as professional development.

NFDA has a wide selection of CE courses and events available for funeral directors and embalmers, whether they are seeking a single course or the full complement. The first registrant from a member firm to attend any NFDA CE event earns the credit without an additional fee (the number of participants who may earn CE at a particular event varies).

Licensees must complete 12 hours every two years (biennium) of instruction, including 2 hours on New York State law, as a prerequisite for licensure renewal. NFDA is a registered statutory provider and offers courses to meet these requirements. In addition, NFDA hosts seminars and networking events that provide more than the required number of credits.

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